Thousands offer Friday prayers at site of demolished mosque

Thousands of Muslims offered Friday prayers at the site of a mosque in south Delhi that was demolished by the authorities for being built on public land, as protests were held at three places in the capital, including the walled city, against the demolition.Around 1,500 people, including Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, offered Friday prayers at the site of the Noor Masjid in Jangpura and on the road outside the police station there amidst tight security. The people were initially not allowed to offer prayers at the site of demolished mosque.

About 2,000 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Delhi Police kept guard at Jangpura to avoid any untoward incident.

On Wednesday morning, the DDA demolished the mosque, triggering unrest with thousands of people gathering daily to raise slogans and the security authorities blockading the entire main road.

“We have asked the government to give the land to the Wakf board. Anyone demolishing another’s house is always sad. Then, this is a religious structure,” said Bukhari, as the assembled gathering nodded their heads.

Bukhari said he had held meetings with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, and both had supported rebuilding of the mosque. “But, I don’t trust the government, and that’s why I am here,” Bukhari.After the prayers, some 40-50 people attempted to rebuild the boundary wall, by placing bricks, but without any cement.

Some of those gathered placed a bedsheet on the ground, asking for donations. Within a few minutes, currency notes and coins blanketed the piece of cloth.

Earlier, Bukhari had raised this issue at the Friday prayers at Delhi’s biggest mosque, Jama Masjid, after which the crowd had spilled onto the crowded Daryaganj road.

For over two hours in the afternoon, Netaji Subhash Marg in central Delhi was blocked as people raised slogans against the demolition. Stones were also pelted at parked cars, but the situation was brought under control, with senior area police officers stationed at the spot.

The traffic police had to issue advisories about the blockade of traffic at Nizamuddin and Daryaganj.

A protest march was also held at Seelampur in east Delhi. The people marched to the office of the district police chief, chanting slogans against the demolition of the mosque.

Meanwhile, the DDA filed a compliance report before the Delhi High Court stating that it had recovered 350 square metres of its land after demolition of the mosque.

The Delhi Wakf Board had also approached a division bench of the Delhi High Court, stating that the land belonged to them.

But, they withdrew the petition after they were castigated by the court for not filing the petition as per proper legal procedures.

A DWB official told that a fresh petition may be filed next week.

Delhi mosque demolition: DDA to file report in court

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) will Friday submit its report to the Delhi High Court on the mosque built illegally on its land in the Jangpura area in 2005 and which was demolished Wednesday.

Facing a contempt threat from the high court, the DDA – after several failed attempts – succeeded in razing the mosque. The demolition had engraged the Muslim community. A crowd of over 200 men and women gathered at the site Thursday but were prevented from offering prayers at the site, following which they turned violent and torched a bus.

Advocate R.K. Saini said that the DDA will submit its report Friday, as it was listed for Jan 14. The petition will be taken up by Justic G.S Sistani.

Peeved over the encroachment affecting their colony’s development, the Jangpura Residents Welfare Association in 2006 approached the court protesting the failure of municipal authorities to remove illegal structures. The petitioners had argued that they could not build a community centre and a park in their locality due to the encroachment.

But, the court, on an assurance by the authorities, disposed of the petition in 2008. “The matter was then referred to Delhi government’s religious committee which gave its approval for demolishing the structure in October 2009, and the case was then forwarded to Delhi Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna, who gave his nod soon after,” said Saini, the lawyer for the RWA.

In 2010, DDA tried demolishing the mosque six times, but was unable to do so due to lack of adequate police protection.

Frustrated with the lack of action, the RWA again moved the court in October 2010. The high court then issued a contempt notice against Khanna, the DDA vice-chairman and the commissioner (Land and Management) and asked them to submit a compliance report within four weeks.

“Since the next date of hearing is Jan 14, we moved ahead with the demolition plan,” said DDA spokesperson Neemo Dhar.

Meanwhile the state Wakf Board claimed the land on which the structure stood belonged to it.

“This land is wakf property and we have to moved to challenge this demolition tomorrow (Friday),” Mohammad Arif, an officer of Delhi Wakf Board said.

However Saini told IANS that the Wakf Board is not the party to the case. “If they approach the court than its upto the court to decide on their petition,” he said.

This is not the only piece of DDA land acquired illegally. There are at least 350 religious encroachments on DDA land at present, said officials. As per an internal DDA survey carried out in 2010, a total of 39.38 acres of land has been encroached upon by religious structures, mostly in east Delhi.

The MCD has been trying to prevent such encroachments. “The MCD commissioner has directed deputy commissioners to ensure that no new religious encroachments come up on MCD land,” said press and information director Deep Mathur.